As many of you know, my son Dan dealt with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder about seven years ago. Memories of those dark days are etched in my mind, as well as on paper in my book, Overcoming OCD: A Journey to Recovery. Many details are just as vivid to me now as when they happened, though I’d happily prefer them not to be.
Dan and I rarely talk about those times, but I remember on occasion trying to discuss specific events and incidents with him, probably two or three years after he’d made a remarkable recovery. His answer to all my queries was always the same: “I don’t remember.”
At first I thought this reply was just an excuse not to have to talk about those difficult times, and honestly, I wouldn’t blame Dan if this was the case. But as time went on, and Dan moved on, he still didn’t seem to remember much about the painful times.
I’m wondering why, and if this is common in those who have managed to beat OCD?
One theory I have is that Dan’s lack of memory stems from the fact that he was overmedicated for a good part of his ordeal. Once Dan was off all his meds, positive changes were obvious to his family and close friends. His depression lifted and more often than not, he was actually happy. His OCD, in his own words, was “practically non-existent” at this time. But when his psychiatrist asked him how he felt once he was off all his meds, Dan replied that he basically felt the same as when he’d been taking the drugs. I was shocked, and the only explanation I could come up with was that he was in such a fog on all his medications that he wasn’t even aware of how he felt.
It seems as if these memories are still inaccessible to him. A defense mechanism perhaps? Studies have shown that stress can sometimes have a negative impact on memory. Maybe this is why Dan barely remembers those tormenting times?
As I said, it’s something I wonder about sometimes. But I certainly don’t dwell on it. And that’s because I know Dan remembers what is important. He remembers that while OCD tried to steal his life from him, he did everything in his power to fight back. He accepted help, embraced exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy, learned he was stronger than his OCD, and subsequently defeated it.
If he could do it, others can too.
Now that’s something worth remembering.